This story originally appeared on Fed Is Best and has been republished here with permission.
Landon would be five today if he were still alive. It’s a very hard birthday – five. It’s a milestone birthday.
Most kiddos would be starting kindergarten at this age. But not my little guy.
I wanted to share for a long time about what happened to Landon, but I always feared what others would say and how I’d be judged. But I want people to know how much deeper the pain gets.
I share his story in hopes that no other family ever experiences the loss that we have.
Jarrod and I wanted what was best for Landon as every parent does for their child. We took all of the classes. Bought and read all of the books. We were ready! Or so we thought...
Every class and book was geared toward breastfeeding and how it's so important if you want a healthy child.
Landon was born in a "Baby-Friendly" hospital. (What this means is everything is geared toward breastfeeding. Unless you’d had a breast augmentation or cancer or some serious medical reason as to why you couldn't breastfeed, your baby would not be given formula unless a prescription was written by the pediatrician.)
Landon was on my breast - ALL OF THE TIME. The lactation consultants would come in and see that "he had a great latch and was doing fine" but there was one who mentioned I may have a problem producing milk.
The reason she gave was because I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and it was just harder for women with hormone imbalances to produce milk. She recommended some herbs for me to take when I got out of the hospital.
Landon cried. And cried. All the time. He cried unless he was on the breast and I began to nurse him continuously.
LISTEN: Holly Wainwright and Christie Hayes talk breast vs. bottle, on our podcast for new parents. Post continues after audio.
The nurses would come in and swaddle him in warm blankets to help get him to sleep. And when I asked them why he was always on my breast, I was told it was because he was "cluster feeding". I recalled learning all about that in the classes I had taken, and being a first time mum, I trusted my doctors and nurses to help me through this - even more so since I was pretty heavily medicated from my emergency c-section and this was my first baby.
But I was wrong. I’ve learned I have to be my child’s number one advocate.
Did you know newborns aren’t supposed to cry all the time? They’re supposed to eat and sleep and dirty their diapers.
I had no idea that he was inconsolable because he was starving - literally.
And when a baby is only on the breast, how do we gauge how much they're actually getting out? Sure, there should be wet and soiled diapers, and weight checks, right? And where is the limit as to weight loss and a minimum for the diapers changed?
So we took him home...not knowing that after less than 12 hours home with us, he would have gone into cardiac arrest caused by dehydration. And the best advice I was given by one of his NICU doctors while he was on life support is sure breast is best, but follow with the bottle.
This way you know your baby has eaten enough...if only I could go back in time.
I still have many, many days of guilt and questions - what if I would’ve just given him a bottle? And anger because how would I have known.
I remember when Stella was born, and she was always quiet. I kept asking the nurses what was wrong with her. They said nothing. She’s doing what she’s supposed to. Sleeping. Eating. And it was then that I realised that it wasn’t normal for a newborn to cry as much as Landon did.
He was just crying out from his hunger. But I didn't know. I should've known. I still struggle daily feeling as though I failed him.
That little boy gave me ten of the most incredibly life changing months. I've been humbled. Challenged. My relationships have fallen apart. Some have come back together. I’ve learned forgiveness. And the true meaning of "life is short".
I love hard - to a fault. But I couldn't live with myself knowing his death was in vain. I've learned so many lessons.
I’ve learned the true meaning of compassion and unconditional love. Thank you for taking the time to read this. And now I invite you to watch 200 beautiful moments in our ten months with Landon.
Happy 5th Birthday my sweet boy. I love you to the moon and back.
The Fed is Best Foundation believes that babies should never go hungry and mothers should be supported in choosing clinically safe feeding options for their babies. Whether breast milk, formula, or a combination of both.
Click here to read more.